Hello everybody! As of now I have completed 5 weeks of TRIP and it has been truly amazing. In these couple of weeks, I’ve made so many new friends and I look forward to learning and growing with them. It is so cool to be around people who have the same interests as me and I have been able to learn so much from them. However, my true besties are the FLIES! Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not an insect lover, so I never expected myself to get used to them so quickly. I remember the first day we worked with them and by the end of our 4 hours, I felt like they were crawling all over me, but now, after working with them for a couple of weeks, I’ve grown used to them and have begun to see how cool they actually are.
This past Saturday, we started planning out our independent projects and it just made me realize that time is flying (pun not intended) by. I came in wanting to do a project relating to study drugs, like Adderall, and with the help of Dr. Gardiner and my peers, I was able to refine this idea to make it more interesting and unique to me. The question that I have decided to pursue is “Can Vitamin B12 help enhance memory? Additionally, can being more relaxed further help with learning and memorization?”
The reason I decided to choose Vitamin B12 is because it is in foods that I consume everyday, like fish, meat, eggs, and breakfast cereals. Because Vitamin B12 is such an essential part of my diet, and it is claimed to have effects on memory and cognition, I wanted to see if this supplement could truly help me in terms of memorization. In addition to that, as a student who takes high level courses, I always feel the pressure of school and grades. School and testing requires a lot of memorization and deep learning, and this kind of pressure causes a lot of stress. I’ve noticed that when I’m stressed and panicked, no matter how much I study and memorize, I don’t perform to the best of my ability which led me to my second question about relaxation and if that could also help with memory.
I’m very excited to begin my journey with this topic and I hope I can obtain some meaningful answers to my question. Anyways, that’s it for now…..signing out!
As the halfway mark for the program is creeping up on us, we have all begun to brainstorm and plan out our long awaited independent projects! Over the past few weeks, we’ve built up our skills in order to prepare for our independent projects, by continuing to observe and collect developmental data from the flies in our screen projects. Although I’m still a little slow at counting pupae and pupal cases, identifying empty cases has become much easier and I no longer feel as guilty disposing of the adult flies every week. We have also gotten exposure to graphical abstracts and critiques on our presentation skills to prepare us for the final presentation on our independent projects.
In my independent project, I will be using the social space assay and righting assay to observe the fly’s behavior when intoxicated and exposed to the stressor of overcrowding. The social space assay will be used as a baseline to see that overcrowding causes stress on the flies. The righting assay looks at how long it takes for the flies to correct their behavior. By comparing the time it takes for the flies exposed to the stressor of overcrowding versus those that were placed in a normal vial, I hope to find a connection between the two. I hypothesize that the flies exposed to the stressor will take longer to right themselves compared to the flies that were placed in normal vials.
Although I couldn’t go through with my original plan, I’m excited for my independent project as it has become more personal since it relates back to Philly. I hope to pursue a career in the future where I can make Philadelphia a better city, even if it’s just through something small. I feel like my project is a small step towards this future career that I hope to achieve!
Every week I feel like I am making small improvements and walk away feeling more confident then when I walked in.
Everything that I’ve been taught in the prior weeks has been to prepare for...MY INDEPENDENT PROJECT!!! I’m very excited to work on my independent experiment, and apply everything I’ve learned in my own way. For my independent project I will be testing the effects of isolation on mood and observing the effects with and without medication. To do this I will isolate flies with and without exposure to anxiety medication and put them in social environments to see how they react to the medication/ interact with other flies. I want to test the effects of isolation on mood to see if how an isolated fly compares to a social fly and if medication can help with the anxiety of going from constant isolation to socializing. I have always been very anxious and introverted but I after years of working on my anxiety I’ve found that medication helps a lot, I think it would be interesting to see if medication will positively impact stress.
I can’t wait to see how it goes these next few weeks!
In the beginning of the program, the idea of having autonomy in creating my own independent project and experimenting with it seemed really exciting to me. Now, along with excitement, I feel a sense of confusion. Especially last week, I was feeling slight frustration with my project because I couldn’t even think of a single idea that was both feasible and piqued my interest. After drafting my project with Dr. Gardiner last week, I changed it AGAIN because I just wasn’t very interested in what I was going to do. Now, I’ve found an idea that’s interesting and possible for me to do in the given time frame.
As an athlete, I drink a lot of Gatorade because it supposedly replenishes your body to make you perform better and exhibit more movement and higher levels of activity. Though this may be true, I am curious about the effect that drinking different amounts of the sports drink would have on my performance. Also, I will most likely play sports as an adult, so I was wondering whether there would be different effects based on age. Thus, I will hopefully be testing the effect of the amount of Gatorade consumed on movement/activity and whether or not there’s a different effect based on age.
I’m actually excited for this project so let’s hope all goes well!
I’m also excited to share my independent project! Narrowing down an idea was hard; I wanted to test all sorts of drugs and do all the different assays. In the end, I decided to study if ginger counters the effects that sugar has on anxiety and microbiome density. Sugar is known to increase anxiety and decrease microbiome density. I have seen these results in my diabetic grandpa and I began to wonder what drugs could counter the effects that sugar has. Since ginger is practically found in every Indian dish and is known to be an important aspect of a diet for a diabetic person, I decided it would be a good drug to test. I predict that ginger will help reduce the impact of sugar, but the effects of sugar will not completely vanish.
Additionally, I plan to test if my findings are maintained in offspring. As diabetes is a genetic condition, I am curious to see if it gets worse as it passes on. I don’t think that there should be much difference between parent and offspring, but maybe I’ll find something different! I can’t wait to see what I will learn from my independent project!
My first few weeks in the program were super fun, but pretty stressful. It is a refreshing change of pace to find something that I love to do and make connections about something that I care about. I feel as though I am being pushed to be the best version of me that I can be, and showing myself everything I am capable of and more. Not only am I doing something I love, I’m doing it with people I love. When Dr. Purdy first said that TRIP is a family, I was a little skeptical. However, I have come to cherish and adore the 14 people I see at 8:30 AM every Saturday.
I can’t wait to get started with the project and see my experiment in action!
The first few weeks into the program have been incredible. Everyone has been so welcoming and we all have gotten to know each other pretty well. The teaching assistants have also been very helpful and have provided assistance and guidance whenever I needed it. I have learned and developed so many experimental and presentation skills that are useful for the future from the practice assay I completed on how folic acid and high temperatures affect female fertility in fruit flies. For my independent project, I decided to conduct my research on assays that involve alcohol. I thought it would be interesting to do an experiment testing alcohol in female and male fruit flies, since alcohol abuse is such a major problem in humans.
At first, I wanted to see whether male flies or female flies are able to build up tolerance to the ethanol faster. However, after working on my experiment with Dr. Gardiner and a group of students, we decided to change the experiment where we test whether ginkgo biloba can help fruit flies with their memory after they have been exposed to ethanol which will affect their memory negatively. This would require the use of the larval memory assay but also adding the extra drug, ethanol, to see how the results would change. I am very excited to begin this project and to be able to compare my results with my hypothesis.
Post-proposal: My idea is testable! Here’s what I proposed.
For my experiment, I’d like to test if there is a diet that can help reduce stress in those with autism spectrum disorders. I have two siblings with autism, and I’ve noticed that the parent community tends to create diets for kids like them that take away something. There are diets that take away gluten, dairy, and added sugars, but I have not seen a diet where something is added. I’d like to see if the antioxidants, or flavonoids, in dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones and help those with autism spectrum disorders regulate their behavior.
The big question is, how do I test this with flies? Since I can’t create autism in flies, I decided that I would alter their hormones to create high stress levels. I’m utilizing the drug Prednisone to raise the stress hormones in flies to create my stressed group. I’m going to be using cocoa powder to hopefully lower these stress levels. I will have a group of flies with Prednisone, a group with cocoa powder, a group with both, and a control group. I plan to test the levels of stress in the flies with the centrophobism assay and the social space assay. These assays will give me an insight to whether or not the cocoa powder reduced how stressed the flies were after their stress levels were raised.
I’m ready to set up my experiment and get to work! I know there will be a lot of failures up ahead, and I’m more than prepared to deal with them. Thanks for reading!
I’ve also made some amazing friends at TRIP. I guess you could say that spending four hours together EVERY SATURDAY has brought us pretty close. I mentioned in my last blog that I was very excited to meet like-minded people and I think it’s safe to say that that goal has been achieved. Though I’m spending four hours of my Saturdays to work with fruit flies and learn about science (something a normal person wouldn’t necessarily consider relaxing during the weekend), it doesn’t even feel like I’m working because of all of the laughs I share with my classmates and our instructors, Dr. Purdy and Dr. Gardiner. Ugh, cheesy I know. On a lighter note, Dr. Purdy introduced me to an axolotl a few weeks ago and I have to say, that’s the coolest thing I did in February.
Overall, I’m really loving the program and I wouldn’t trade my time on Saturdays for anything else. See y’all in the next blog. Stay nerdy :)